Delaying Plebiscite Was Nehru’s Blunder: Jha

‘In 1947, when India and Pakistan gained their freedom, Kashmiris lost theirs’

New Delhi: A day after former minister for external affairs and diplomat K Natwar Singh claimed that taking Kashmir issue to United Nations Security Council was a ‘great mistake’, renowned author and columnist Prem Shankar Jha said that India committed a blunder by not going for plebiscite in Kashmir soon after the tribal invasion in 1947. “During that time under Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah’s influence Kashmiri people would have opted for India and the matter would have been resolved forever,” Jha told Srinagar based news agency adding that democratic rights Kashmiri’s were promised by India were never wholly given.

Jha said that Nehru approached to UN when he should have go for plebiscite in Indian held Kashmir. “Pakistan used delay tactics as it felt that time was not ripe for plebiscite. The population of Valley was much higher than of other regions of Kashmir Division and the advantage for India was that there was Shiekh Abdullah under whose influence people could have opted for India,” he said.

He said that Nehru himself on Nov 2, 1947 in All India Radio Broadcast promised that Government of India is committed to fulfill it’s promises and wishes of the people of Kashmir. “Unfortunately, till date Kashmir’s have not been given the right to plebiscite and they are living like slaves,” Jha said.

He further said that it was also a blunder to arrest late Shiekh Muhammad Abdullah. “I met him thrice and Shiekh every time told me that he doesn’t himself know why he was arrested. There is no doubt that India made some blunders while dealing with Kashmir. I feel that neither India nor Pakistan has tried to ascertain what the Kashmiris want. Their demand for freedom is therefore not so much a demand for separation from the two countries as a demand for the restoration of their lost freedoms, and the democratic rights they were promised but never wholly given,” he said.

Jha said that in 1947, when India and Pakistan gained their freedom, Kashmiris lost theirs. “They lost the freedom to live, travel, study, and do business in any part of the subcontinent. Moreover, they got nothing in return. Both Pakistan and India gave their parts of Kashmir autonomy bordering on independence in theory, but denied them even a semblance of democratic freedom in practice. Kashmiris, therefore, have felt doubly betrayed,” he said.

Jha further said that there is no democracy in Kashmir. “For petty matter curfew and restrictions are imposed. The voice of people is muzzled who always complain of coercion and rigging during elections. This must be stopped and people should be allowed to breathe freely,” he said. (CNS)

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